I am often asked to give speeches and presentations about Family Relationship Dynamics. My audiences are varied, they can be just a few interested couples or an auditorium of people looking to improve their lives in some way. I will provide them with information, tools, insights and exercises, which are all designed to inspire them to think about their own families and the roles that they play in them.
Often at the end of the presentation I will conclude with a simple, but wonderful story written by Chris Mead, one of the top 10 Improv Artists in the UK. The story is longer, but with the Author’s permission This story was written for his neice and his sister, and sums up why I so what I do. I hope you enjoy the story and would love your comments.
The Silver Thread
A long time ago a young girl lived with her family on the edge of a wide, tranquil ocean.
She had a great many brothers and sisters and her life was full of adventure and incident. Often she would run across the wet sand with her mother and father, chasing seabirds and kicking up sea foam with her bare feet.
Despite all this, the young girl was sometimes sad. She had trouble remembering. As a baby she couldn’t recall being held by her mother, nor if her father had made up stories for her as she lay in her crib.
Once, on her eldest sister’s birthday, her father had blown up hundreds of balloons and tethered them to the fence with silver thread. A single balloon broke free and floated off into the sky.
Sometimes the girl felt like the balloon, drifting along all alone with nothing to tie her to the rest of her family.
One day, as she wandered along the beach, she heard a voice cry out, she saw that a young seal had trapped himself underneath a heavy stone, and was struggling to get free.
Without a further thought, the girl waded into the water and freed the seal. The seal was so grateful that it stayed and they laughed and sang and named all the different kinds of fish that swam by.
But suddenly the girl remembered her predicament and sat down heavily on the sand and began to weep.
“What’s wrong?” said the seal, who was able to talk, as is sometimes the way in these stories. The girl told him everything, how her childhood memories were lost in the mists of time and how she herself felt similarly lost.
The seal, looked thoughtful for a second, and then said “child – you are mistaken. No one remembers their childhood that way. We forget the whats and wherewithals – it’s the feel of it that shapes us.
You dived into the water to save me without a second thought. You learnt that from a lifetime of watching your parents put others first. You laugh easily and often, you know the words to a dozen songs and the names of every fish in the sea. You carry yourself with confidence, born of security. Your eyes sparkle when you talk about your family.
You didn’t come by these things by accident. They were bestowed upon you – each gift a strand too fine for the mind to hold onto individually, but woven together they form a silver thread that tugs at your centre. That calls you home.
And the girl looked at the seal and knew that it was true. So with a final wave goodbye she spun towards her family home. A blur of joy, drawn home by a silver thread.
We grow older and we forget: the exact rules of a childhood game or the particular colour of a favourite toy. But these things are merely decoration, as thin and inconsequential as a new coat of paint. They don’t matter.
My hope for us is this:
- That our houses are full of song and story
- That our laughter comes easily and often
- So that we feel that tug at the centre of our being
A silver thread to guide us home.